Proof of Irish citizenship for someone born, adopted in 1880s?
November 25, 2009 11:01 AM   Subscribe

Is this possible to search for (or prove the absence of) my Grandmother's Irish birth certificate and Irish citizenship from the comfort of my own armchair in the US, ideally inexpensively?

My grandmother was born in 1883 to Irish parents, possibly in Limerick, possibly in Rhode Island (US).

I would like to know for certain whether she was born in Ireland and was an Irish citizen to satisfy the "yes, you can be a citizen if your grandparent was" Irish citizenship clause.

In other words I would like to track down my grandmother's "full civil birth certificate if born after 1864..."

Possible confounding factor - when she was a young girl (age 7 or so) her family put her up for adoption in the US. I do have her birth parents' names.

I could travel to Ireland and do this search in person at the General Register Office but this office doesn't appear to offer an option where I can do the search on-line or commission them to look someone up.

I presume that if I found a birth certificate for her in Rhode Island, this would confirm she was not born in Ireland, though I do not know if this was the case for registration and citizenship at the time. Consider this a bonus sub-question - would a Rhode Island birth cert. negate the whole Irish thing for someone in the late 1800s?
posted by zippy to Law & Government (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Contact the Ireland Embassy in Washington, DC and ask them this question. They probably receive dozens of these types of inquiries every month.
posted by dfriedman at 11:07 AM on November 25, 2009

Try You can at least find her name and the birthplace that she gave if she is in the US Census records. There are also non-US resources, although I do not know if the Irish birth records you are looking for would be available.

Although Ancestry has a $20-30 monthly fee, you may be able to get what you are looking for without payment, since the search option is free. I am not sure, since I haven't used it while logged out in a while.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:23 AM on November 25, 2009

Best answer: Or post it to MeFi jobs for some Irish mefite to go to the registry for you to look it up in person.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:24 AM on November 25, 2009

I went through similar searches to see about getting Italian citizenship (no dice in the end) and found that the nets are full of genealogy hobbyists who like nothing better than to find this sort of thing. The forums I found were specific for Italian citizenship but look around and you find something useful. Also during the process I connected with a distant cousin who was researching the full family tree; in the end he happened to be going to the archives in Revelstoke BC and happened to see a copy of my great-grandfather's naturalization papers, the existence of which I needed to determine. So, in other words, start digging and see what you can find.

By the way if you sign up for they will never stop emailing you enticing you to pay, even after turning all the settings to 'don't email me'. My experience at least.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:38 AM on November 25, 2009

Best answer: I can't help with the overall question, but...

Or post it to MeFi jobs for some Irish mefite to go to the registry for you to look it up in person.

If you could wait until the second half of December or early January, I'm in Ireland, will have free time and love a detective mission, so I'd be happy to do the legwork in Dublin, Roscommon or Limerick if you need it.
posted by carbide at 11:43 AM on November 25, 2009

You can also use at some local libraries through their edition.
posted by rabidsegue at 11:50 AM on November 25, 2009

Best answer: I might be missing something, but it looks to me like they will find a birth certificate for you for a ten euro fee. It sounds like you might have enough information if you have the parents' name and date of birth. They won't do research, but if you can provide them with some basic information they'll find the thing and copy it for you.
posted by craichead at 11:53 AM on November 25, 2009

I don't know how much research you've done already, but this might help. Cyndi's List has an extensive list of links related to Irish genealogy (including how-to).
posted by bentley at 1:33 PM on November 25, 2009

Try You can at least find her name and the birthplace that she gave if she is in the US Census records.

I'm researching a similar situation, and I'm afraid it won't be that easy -- a lot of times, the 1800's census takers simply put down "Ireland" as a birthplace, rather than specifying the town. That would settle the question of Ireland/Rhode Island, but it may not be quite as authoritative as one would hope.

What you do have going for you, though, is that you're looking for someone born in the 1880's -- I'm trying to do research for someone born in the 1840's, right when there were a crapton of Irish coming here to escape the famine. My great-great grandfather was born in Massachusetts to Irish parents in 1849, but I can't find where in Ireland HIS parents were from. Records are not as complete as one would hope.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:28 PM on November 25, 2009

I have an Ancestry account. If you want to memail me, I can plug her name in and see if anything comes up for a birth certificate in RI.
posted by oneirodynia at 4:22 PM on November 25, 2009

Best answer: You might want to try FamilySearch - which is brought to you by the Mormons, is free, and has better original document searching.

Use the Search Records >>> Record Search Pilot feature.
posted by cinemafiend at 6:05 PM on November 25, 2009

I'm a dual citizen of Ireland and the U.S. and went through this process several years ago. Then (and, it appears, now) there was no online resource to get the birth certificate. You literally had to go to the town where the family member was born (or wherever in Ireland the document was located) and go get an official record. As luck would have it, I had several relatives in Ireland at the time who were able to do this, and good thing, as they weren't the best record keepers. Tracking down the official record of birth took some doing, and it was located in this small rural village hut where my grandmother was born that served as their hall of records. Once we did find it, we found out we'd been celebrating my grandmothers birthday on the wrong day for the 92 years she was alive (we celebrated on the 2nd, birth date according to the certificate was the 1st - not even my grandmother knew, apparently.) So, unless things have changed you may be out of luck on the inexpensive front. If she was born in Rhode Island, you may be out of luck as well, because I think the relative in question has to be born in Ireland. I could be wrong about this, though. As the daughter of two Irish citizens, she herself was also probably considered a citizen (or at least would be now), but I'd imagine you'd need to get the official notice from the "Foreign Births Entry Book" if it actually exists (incidentally, that's the same notice you'll get when you're application is accepted and approved. Once you get that, you can apply for passports, etc...)

Couple other side notes. You will need all official documents - not copies of anything - and, at least in my case, they were sticklers on everything. Missing a marriage or death certificate? Come back again when you have it. Be as meticulous as you can when collecting the documentation or else they won't accept the application.

Once you jump through the necessary hoops it's well worth it. Not only can you live and work in any EU country, but you can use an Irish passport to travel to and fro - something I found very helpful this summer on my honeymoon when I discovered in the taxi to the airport that my American passport had expired.
posted by Rewind at 7:35 PM on November 25, 2009

I was going to suggest what oneirodynia did first, but I say take the offer. I've been doing genealogy research for my ancestors at our local library and use that site all the time. I've been looking in England and Scotland, but I'm sure Ireland is included. You wouldn't believe what you can find sometimes. Or email me and I will. If you have the exact birth date, that makes it much easier. But there are other ways if you don't have that info.

Or you could just try your local library on your own ( if they have and cut out the middle....person.
posted by Taurid at 10:13 PM on November 25, 2009

Response by poster: craichead, thank you for catching that the General Register Office will look up a birth certificate!

Does anyone know if there is a similar service for Ireland's Foreign Births Register?

That would be another way to document grandma's Irish citizenship if she was born in the US to Irish parents.
posted by zippy at 2:36 PM on November 27, 2009

Response by poster: About the Foreign Births Register, it's possible that the General Register Office tracks these the way it tracks in-country births.

The internet doesn't seem to have the answer to this, which is surprising, since you'd normally want to show that your parent was an Irish citizen in order to qualify, and the Foreign Births Register is one place where the parent's birth and Irish citizenship would be documented.
posted by zippy at 12:47 PM on November 28, 2009

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